Students and alumni explore sustainability career paths

Students and alumni came together to participate in a sustainability career panel event, hosted by Sustainable RSM and RSM Alumni Relations at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) on 3 May 2017. Participants interested in sustainability had the chance to gain tips and strategies in their career search from five RSM alumni who are now successful professionals in the field.

Students from RSM’s International Full-time MBA and several MSc programmes attended the panel event, which took place on campus. The panel members were RSM alumni Stephan Roest, Caroline Cawley, Himanshu Kacchwaha, Floske Kusse and Katina Gikas.

“The event was really interesting and I came here for inspiration on where to look for jobs that interest me and to get a better understanding of where I should start,” said Berber Achterbosch, an MSc Supply Chain Management student. “I particularly liked the panel member’s advice to start broader with the job search and go in the industry you’re interested in, rather than looking for the ‘perfect sustainability job’.”

Experience matters

MBA alumna Caroline Cawley, sustainability manager at Liberty Global, explained that her first job after graduating was in political advocacy, followed by experiences in several other sectors, including environmental compliance, biodiversity research and conservation. Cawley said that as long as you make the most out of each experience and acquire different skills it does not matter whether your first job after graduating is sustainability-related or not. She said it is the experience that counts.

Stephan Roest, market development manager for Corbion Biobased Innovations Group, and Floske Kusse, stakeholder engagement manager at ING Global Sustainability, said that “if you simply apply for a position that may look good on your CV but you’re not passionate about, any recruiter in a job interview will notice.” Both alumni explained that the most important factor after graduating and beyond is to choose an industry and a position that you are interested in and truly passionate about.

“Money shouldn’t be a driver”

One participant asked how the panel participants selected the companies they are working at now and if having a steady income was ever a concern.

Katina Gikas believes that money should never be a driver. The RSM MBA graduate led a career in FMCG companies from L’Oreal to Unilever were marketing was her focus. After realising that ‘selling products’ was not what she wanted to do anymore, she co-founded Water Tech Trading. While earning less money now she believes that this also has a value, as it makes you become creative as you have to become more engaged and find other money streams.

Himanshu Kachhwaha, who was nominated for a RSM Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015, also said he did not start out with a large fund, but he believes in his idea and went for it anyway. He highlighted that it is difficult to work in an area you are not passionate about. So he quit his banking job and founded Veggiesaurus, a fresh food catering company. He did say the knowledge gained through working in finance was still beneficial for starting his own business so those years in banking were useful for him.

Keeping up to date with sustainability

A last question raised by a participant to the panel members, is whether they had any recommendations on how to keep up to date with sustainability matters. The panel members agreed that a combination of conducting own research on the internet, creating your own resources and surrounding yourself with people with similar interests are the best ways to keep being informed.

The event concluded with networking drinks, were panel members and participants continued talking about careers in sustainability.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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